Those of us who are Over Fifty are living in what’s been called an information explosion. Simply put, this means that, in our lifetime, there has been a rapid, exponential increase in the amount of published information. Over one million books are published every year in the United States alone, and, according to one techno-server, just the number of blogs doubles every six months!
If you’re a reader, those kinds of statistics just might bring on an anxiety attack bigger than Dallas, Texas.
So, is there a way that you and I can decide what to read, how to read it (audible vs. book vs. digital e-read) without getting so bogged down in those decisions that we give up on the reading itself? The answer to that question is a cover-to-cover yes.
This is my best encouragement for how to read 50 books in a year. Without even having to increase the strength of your blood pressure medication.
Start with a Budget
The first thing to determine when deciding on a reading goal, whether it’s 10 books (my oldest daughter) or 100 (perhaps me next year!) is how much you’ll need to plan on spending for the books. If you’re a single mom with limited resources, your list will need to include titles that are available from inexpensive sources. Of course, the local library will have plenty of books for you to choose from, but if you want to stick with a preferred genre or favorite author, it may be more difficult for you to meet your goal without springing for a few titles out of your own pocket.
This year, I set a goal to read 50 books that I already own. Yes, I actually own 50 books that I have never read. They’re sitting on bookshelves and piled into an armoire, with a whole bunch of other ones I’ve bought and never read.
Since my Texas Over Fifty life is a story that involves more intentional adventure and way less stuff, I’m on a constant campaign to downsize and declutter. That’s what motivated me to read what I have, then give away the books so that someone else can enjoy them. What’s crazy is how little visible difference there is on the shelves and in the stacks, with 50 books gone!
Well, we can hash out that decluttering subject more on another day, okay?
For now, ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend on the books you read this year. Are you trying to build a home library of hardbacks with certain colors on the spine? If you check out all your determined titles from the library, will you struggle to return them by the due date? Have you and your spouse talked about cutting back on the Amazon Prime orders this year?
These are all criteria for determining the year’s book budget, which you’ll need to consider before finalizing your list of titles to read.
Choose Your Categories
What are your favorite categories of books to read? Is mystery your most-loved genre? Maybe Christian fiction?
Some readers stick with a specific style or category and rarely waver from it. My husband isn’t an avid reader, although he does enjoy a few good books per year. But the titles he chooses are always non-fiction, either by a pastor, teacher or business expert. He likes to listen to me read Grisham novels when we travel by car, but for his individual reading pleasure, non-fiction is what he finds most appealing.
Other readers (hello to all my fellow Enneagram 7’s out there!) look at every book as a natural way to adventure through life in words and stories. They enjoy everything from non-fiction or self-help to challenging treatises, biographies, and tender tales of love.
Whatever your preferred genre, systematic reading of 50 books in one year requires narrowing your focus to a few choice categories.
Make a List
Now that you’ve declared a book budget and chosen the categories of books you want to read, it’s time to make a list of the titles you want to tackle.
Making a list does several things to help readers reach a reading goal, especially when the goal is as lofty as 50 books in a year. A list helps to keep the reader on track, motivates a reader to keep going, and it serves as a chronology so the reader doesn’t have to try to remember everything he or she has already read. As in, let’s see – did we read that Grisham novel, or was it this other one??
Keep it Handy
Goodreads makes it very easy to keep an online list of the books we’ve read in the past, the books we want to read at some point in the future, and the books we are currently reading. The website also makes tracking a reading challenge a very simple process.
But while tracking your reading online is a great idea, it’s also wise to have the list in more than one spot. In addition to the online Goodreads format, I keep my challenge list in the Notes on my iPhone, just on the outside chance that I’m unable to access the internet. I mean, who knows when you might snag a three-day reader’s weekend in a tiny log cabin located on the crest of a snow-capped mountain, accessible only by helicopter and snowshoes. If that ever, ever, ever, in my long-legged life happens to me, I sure don’t want to be without my beloved list and not be able to record a finish date!
Also, there is some information that cannot be recorded in Goodreads, Start and finish dates are easily recorded, but if you want to set target dates for completion of each title, you’ll have to keep that information somewhere else.
Carve Out the Time
Reading 50 books in a year is a challenging goal for most readers. In order to make it happen, the reader must dedicate a carved out space of daily time. My favorite time to read is early morning, simply because if I try to read at night, it lulls me right to sleep!
I have a friend, though, who prefers a shared reading time with her husband after they get in bed every night. They cook dinner, take a long walk around the neighborhood, then shower and hit the hay. Or the headboard. They have matching reading lamps, but their books are unique to each other’s preference. Of course, what they both agree on is the fact that they’ve read a lot of books, side by side, over the years, and they’ve loved sharing that time together.
Carving out an hour or so a day is one sure way to set yourself up for success. If you want to go a little deeper into structuring your available time, there’s a handy little website that will help. Have you heard of HowLongtoRead.com? Here, searching almost any title will yield a quick answer to how long it will likely take the average reader to read it. I love that website!
Here are My Categories
Grab a cup of tea, my friend. I’m about to share my 2020 reading challenge with you. I know. It would be much better if I could offer a sure-fire stock tip, wouldn’t it? Well, I’ll work on that. But in the meantime, I’m still turning over to you something of great value to me. This list represents a few things about me that you may not already know. Therefore, it feels like a bit of a protected treasure.
So, here goes. Please protect this list with all the due diligence it deserves. Or chunk it. After all, it’s really not life or death. I guess you can share it if you want. Or sell it! Now, there’s a thought. And it might actually make you more money than my best stock tip.
- Christian Fiction
- Read Aloud
- Granddaughter Appropriate
- Author I Like
- Becoming a Movie
- Author I’ve Never Read Before
- Started, Need to Finish
- Prayer and Bible Study
- A Pastor I Like
- Unfinished Series
- Around the World
- True Crime
- Title from Goodreads “Want to Read” List
- Christmas Book to Read with My Daughters
- Title from a National Bestseller List
What Books Are On My List?
Are you wondering which actual books are on my list? Which titles fall under which categories? Well, let’s just say that’s for another day. As in maybe December 31. Let’s make sure I read all 50 books before I go to braggin’.
What are you reading lately? Have you ever done a “reading challenge”? Do you think you could read 50 books in a year?
Encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, through the pages of many, many books.
Here are a couple more “bookish” posts you might like:
Bestselling Books by Favorite Texas Pastors